This is one of the hardest blogs I’ll ever have to write, so I’m going to write it in letter form.
I have to make a really big decision next week about you.
Do you remember when we were in town the other day with Kate and the boys and we lost (or, as Kate said, misplaced) them.
You were so anxious.
We soon found each other, but it happened again shortly afterwards. It frightened me, it was so busy and I couldn’t hear where they’d gone.
It’s not the first time you’ve been anxious when we’re out.
It’s like you’re slowing down and not really able to concentrate.
I blame myself lovely, I really do.
I’m losing confidence in simple routes, which isn’t helping you, I know.
I couldn’t even remember which way to turn when we got off the bus once, I turned right.
I did it so often, you had to turn round and get us to the right spot.
You must have thought: “Who’s the guide dog round here, me, or you!”
I’ve sussed it out now though, it’s left.
I think of it this way:
“Nicki has left the bus!”
I always imagine loud applause and cheers – but they never happen.
So, here’s the point of the letter Chelly.
I need to decide whether I should retire you – properly.
This could mean that I find a suitable dog to carry on where you left off.
There are three lists. I’m on list 2, but to find a more suitable match and possibly sooner, I need to go on list 1.
This means letting you go and stay with Mum up North.
I’ve written this letter once – and silly computer lost it, but last time I cried lots when I wrote the letter.
I’ve been doing a lot of that lately – silly Mummy!
Do you remember the other day at work when I got very upset after I spoke to the lady from guide dogs?
You must have wondered what was happening.
You don’t like it when I’m sad, do you lovely!
I thought if I really start crying, I’ll never stop.
But here’s where I really feel upset, I can’t imagine being in Cardiff without you, my precious, kind, and thoughtful dog!
How will I cope on my own!
Its simple things you help me with, not just getting from A to B.
You make me laugh, just by dropping a toy at my feet, or a gentle lick on the hand.
It’s not just been the last six months, but especially the last two years, since Dad…
If I retire you early you can play with your ball in the park with Mum, you can go in the sea (although not now poppet, cos it’ll be too cold for your old bones)
And, do you know what the best part will be? You can loll around and eat carrots all day!
Well, the best part will be when I pop up to visit – which I will lots!
But then I think, could you go on for a bit longer? Is it fair? What if you completely break down in the middle of a road or something, I’d never forgive myself for something like that!
Also, this sounds wrong, I don’t mean it to, but I would be able to go out properly again if I did get a new dog. I’d find my confidence! Oh, it’s so difficult!
I’m not losing you, I know that. This is something we sign up for as guide dog owners time and time again. But it never gets easier – never!
I think I’ve made a decision, but if I say it, or write it, it’ll just be too hard to cope with.
I’ll need someone with me if I make the phone call next week, or Email. They’d better have plenty of chocky, or cake for me – plus carrots for you, special girl!
Do you remember how I sometimes sing the Home And Away theme to you?
My favourite line is:
“You’re my guiding star!”
And, that’s exactly what you are Chelly!
By the way, don’t think just because you’re going to live with Mum that you can become all naughty and forget all your training? I will find out if you’re a pickle – Mum’s know everything!
Lots of love, always